Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Great Soul Searching | Last Part

Exhaustion claws dragging the weary to sleep. It was the first time in recent memory when the call of slumber came and slipped through the comfort of dreams. It must have been the business meeting earlier that night and the promises it brings. A start-up company, a passion I've been doing for ages, a good pay, a boss who is the husband of a former teacher. The elements are all present, the only thing missing is the blood compact that will finally seal the deal.

Two accounts disappeared, while two others had their first run. Hopes are high that these double strike will end the strings of whammy. The account I keep still bleeds profusely. Today a total output of an entire shift can be managed by a single agent. And there are more than 10 agents in that shift. It's no wonder, nobody was looking at my direction when their shift ended at six.

Project Raketship may have been too grand an idea, it ended in a flux. A series of misunderstood correspondence lead to a breakdown of communications. The trigger was a request for detailed instructions. The Virtual Assistant promised a prompt reply but reinforcements came in the form of a howling wind. While repeated inquiries about the article development flooded my email, my request for details were completely ignored. Silence fell on all channels. In the end, I courteously announced my decision to leave.

While doing my evaluation, I found several errors committed by the agent in focus. I was fuming mad of course, she had undergone a re-training just a few weeks ago. The bitch in me was ready to strike again, but then I realized,

"What is the point of being too hard, when she is just demoralized like everyone else."

So instead of slapping the agent with a glaring email (which could be read by everyone on the floor) to point out her errors, I gave a few examples that she could follow as part of the corrective measures included in the evaluation.

Today is the end of the month. In less than thirty days, a new life will carry on the torch from the old guards. A new generation will inherit the earth, and despite the unreadiness of his parents to bring him to this world. Hope sees through. It will be a year less before my mother retires and a year more before I embrace my third decade. These new realities colliding with my old principles are tearing the order apart.  When the dust settles, wisdom will be acquired.

If there are two things I have learned so far, first is to never allow oneself to be romantically attached. Love must take a backseat when the fate of an entire household is involved. Last is to learn to take chances. I maybe unprepared for the big jump, but I have made up my mind.

It is time to move on.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Soul Searching | First Part

Facebook shout-out says  "it takes balls to admit that you are scared too."  There is no point in hiding and as the months fall like leaves from an old tree, the truth becomes more of a burden to keep:  help is not coming. The only choice is to swim.

Two accounts have pulled out from our company yesterday.  You can see the disappointment in the eyes of everyone. In the way they walked alone to the elevator or stare at the computer screens with emptiness in their hearts, the overwhelming sadness was there.   People seldom talk these days, or if they do, they speak with broken words retelling the hardships they endure in life.  Morale is at all time low since the retrenchment last June. Promises of a better pay never came despite the illusion of a turnaround a month after the forced banishment.

The account I handle does not earn.  This is what the boss has spelled out during our last management meeting. We cannot pressure the client to come up with more job orders since advertisements are handled by another company.  If volume surges unexpectedly, we do not have the manpower to keep up with the demand.  The client used to instruct all sorts of alterations to the way we do our job. These days, they whimper every time we call to ask when work will come in.

Our agents used to be the cream of the crop. They enjoyed privileges believing they were a source of pride to the company.  Now there are plans to take away the last perks these people enjoy. "There is no choice," the boss confessed.  "Either we fold up or make some adjustments."  I understood the situation and kept a mum about the changes. But when word spreads, expect a round of attrition and some gnashing of teeth from those who will be affected.

"If you are free later, please come. I will introduce you to someone."  I said to an agent who was booted out today.  "Please bring your resume so they can process your application."

"Take that job offer if you must."  I told another agent. She was plying her resume in another company , also today.  "Kahit graveyard patusin mo na..."  If only I could tell the coming changes. Once she finds out, it would drive her to the pits of depression again.

They say the captain swims last when the boat sinks. I would like to believe in such noble idea but the more I begin to think of responsibilities - at home - the more I am tempted to break free of the cycle.  Someone had set me up with a meeting this evening.  The job being offered is quite familiar and the pay is even better than what I am getting.  There is even a company laptop and an HMO to employees to be given away.

The offer is very interesting.

And as if fate has yet to be satisfied with the wager, it threw another dice leaving me more uncertain with the final decision: Mom gave the green light. Negotiations for a smooth transition will be discussed during this evening's meeting. Nobody is aware at work, nor I have the intentions of announcing my resignation yet. But for some strange reasons, the boss may have read my mind and has decided to give me a new assignment.

"I want you to monitor the quality of our agents when changes finally take place." He began.  "Since your other colleague has left, expect a new adjustment to your salary next month."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Trouble With Sleep

They say in the older days,  when electricity is yet to be invented,  when the price of a candle can afford a peasant's meal for a day, when nobody goes out when darkness swallows the earth,  people sleep at the set of dusk. That is what I learned from watching History Channel.

Old nocturnal habits have began disrupting my Circadian Rhythm.  I arrive home at past six.  Dinner time is at eight.   The full meal I eat - the only one allowable after starving myself the whole day leaves me in a state of sluggishness.  I become a couch potato after turning into a gym bunny a few hours earlier. Since my living room is also my sleeping quarters, I end up dozing off after watching my favorite TV shows for an hour. Body clock wakes me up at past midnight. And no matter how I force myself back to sleep for the supposed-to-be six in the morning work schedule, the attempt becomes an exercise in futility.

In the older days, people sleep twice at night.  They get up at around midnight to do some chores that would not require them to leave their fortress homes. The landscape must have been shrouded in complete darkness, save for a billion stars turning the sky into a patchwork of lights. The silvery glow of a round moon was the only source of solace, if she takes her place in heaven.

But in the age of 24-hour television, of call centers and artificial lights, Night becomes irrelevant, not even for sleeping.

And so here I am, after downing a pill that would easily induce slumber, with the mind on the verge of a shutdown, is looking forward to a union with my pillow. An hour or two of shuteye is enough to keep me in a state of wakefulness until noon.   After which, the same cycle begins again, leaving me sleep bound, leaving me slumber less until I get used to the pattern and after so many nights of whining and so many nights searching for the sandman

The midnight break will not trouble me anymore.

There is no reprieve. Six am. Off to work.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Into The Dark


You know this familiar itch. The one, the body could not resist. It betrays the higher functions of the mind and turns us back to our base human instincts. I too succumb to my carnal urges and in my younger days have gone to the extremes to satiate my desires. My wisdom is born out of experience and the lesson I will part today may spare you from humiliation should you walk the route I once took - flipping over - on my way to our not-so-secret wonderland.


Rejection comes easy to fat people. It was a lesson I bitterly learned. Kaya naman hanggang pangarap lang makatikim ng totoong karne noon. One must pay his way through for a piece of prime beef.

At a funeral home where a beloved awaited her journey to her final resting place was a massage clinic across the street. At past 4 in the morning, with sleeplessness setting in and boredom enhancing the senses, I decided to check the place out and taste the boys in the menu.

Yes, I remember. They were all in the inner room lying next to one another. The break of twilight was an assurance that no horny customer will interrupt their slumber. But there was I, barging into the door and asking the manager to rouse them from their sleep. I was too drunk with lust to even walk back and I knew - from online sources - that everything is possible with just the right amount of cash.

The scent of cheap lotion still clung on my skin the next day after being pulped and tenderized by the beefcake cock sucking masseur.


The idea came from a fellow blogger. He was once a patron of such places until fate called and told him to plant his roots elsewhere.  It was a weekday night, I recall, and contingency measures (such as who to call in case of emergency) were also included when I was planning my expedition.

The place was somewhere along Harrison.   It was already a legend even in ancient times and no history of police incursions have ever took place within its secluded premises.   Conventional wisdom tells that for such a place to operate within a stone's throw distance from city hall means that its owners have friends in high places. Anonymity was my biggest concern and from the information I have gathered, I knew I was safe.

I picked an inconspicuous night for my first prowl. I cannot recall scoring big, but I fondly remember making out with a brutish gym coach before he left to chase a more delectable prey. It was my first attempt to suspend my faculties of attachment and focus on the pressing need for orgasm. The best part of the expedition was the thrill of choosing. Sex was readily available should I decide to pursue a predator.

I went home that early morning with a black hole in my chest.


These recollections emerged after reading Vince and his story about the police raid at the Queeriosity Palace. We share our sympathies for those who were unjustly treated and were traumatized by the incident. While the issue of human rights and extortion by the Pasay Police Force must be cast into the spotlight, we cannot help but ask: should patrons and hookers take responsibility as well for the risk knowing that sexual acts outside the comfort of one's personal quarters are merely tolerated and not completely accepted by people at large?

In those nights I prowled in the dark, I was completely aware of the stakes to my anonymity.  There was no room for complacency nor space for finger pointing should a mistake be committed.

And so I spirited my warm frame just when nobody was looking.  Whether it was at 4 in the morning at a massage clinic in San Juan or at 10 in the evening in a bathouse in Manila.  I came only when there would be few patrons around and the police, knowing that it would be more of a burden than a profit to exercise their right to abuse the fearful will back away from such idea.

For it is a sad, sad tale that until one embraces selflessness and allow himself to be sacrificed - violently - will the society realizes one's plight.  In a Dystopian world that is ours.  Injustice only matter when the person who was wronged get feasted and drunk by the media,

and in most times,  has performed acts worthy of national indignation and ends up becoming dead.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project Raketship

Permission to accept the sideline was already granted. Mami Athena has expressed her best wishes and even said that I will shine in such environment. But on the eve of signing the contract with the agency, it appears they have fallen short of my expectations. I will fail in my commitment.  A content writer position may sound tempting to any job-searcher. But realities now tell that it is not as simple as the job responsibilities state.

The position was recommended by a colleague who just left the company . He said their writers are paid 15 grands monthly. Imagine the earnings I would receive should I be accepted as their part-time talent. Dazzled by the opportunity, a resume was submitted.  Response came two days after and a training was set the next Saturday later.

It took us several hours to complete the training. There were three of us - a teacher from a private school, a team leader from a call center company, and there was me, proud and confident that my experience in blogging would easily land me a job in the agency. The trainer provided the materials on how Search Engine Optimization works. They even have a process to make an article appear on the first page of any search engine. Training was a breeze and even the exercise the trainer had provided was too easy for me.

Three hours through the chat conference, the trainer disappeared. He told us to take a break but he never came back.

Hours were wasted but the free learning was enough to cover the 100 peso charge for renting a computer. Moving on was done swiftly. There will always be another job search. Raket is easy to those who look for money.

Another call came a few days later. It was from the agency telling yours truly that I passed the training. WTF, I told myself. Aside from learning the basics, nothing was gained from the exercise that was assigned. Nevertheless a chance is a chance and despite the number of inquiries and doubts about this project, I signed up this morning for my first assignment.


NFL Experts Picks
NFL point spread
NFL betting lines
football betting lines
football point spreads
betting on football
college football betting lines

The topic was easy to pull out from the linear ideas. Using all my knowledge to harvest the Google for anything - that will shed light to the assignment which was given, a subject was chosen. Without any directions as to how the article should form from the formless, I readied my fingers to tap the first words that will make up the first sentence of my piece.


Several additional online articles and a 400-word blog entry (which I was able to finish in less than an hour) later, my mind remains kaput as to how to begin my first job order.


Every blogger has a style unique to him. Every posts remains fascinating and somewhat heartwarming. However, not all blogger have the itch to express themselves through writing everyday. Most of them would update their blogs once a week. But there are those who share their story on a day to day basis, and for avid reader like me... waiting for their new entry to appear is like looking forward to the next episode of your most favorite anime program.

Planetary State Visits
Fullmetal Dreams
March 6, 2004

Namulat ako sa panahong tanging mga ka-tropa lang ang nagbabasa ng blog ko. Bago lang ang Blogger noon. Hindi pa siya property ng Google at karamihan sa mga nagsusulat sa internet ay sa Live Journal gumagawa ng draft entries. Hindi pa uso ang blog-hopping at pagfo-follow ng ibang blogs. Para maka-connect, kinailangan pa na maging member ng Rice Bowl Journals magkaroon lang ng exposure sa ibang bloggers.

In just several days, the moderators of Rice Bowl Journals will review my blog. I don't know how will it go, but hopefully, I'll pass their review. On my application, there's this tinge of hesitation of showing my space to everyone, after all... I've been so open in this piece of liberty to the point of even compromising my security over freedom of expressing oneself. I have some classmates and acquaintances there, once they find out my blog. I should consider myself doomed.

Anyway, maybe I should think globally starting today, after all, there might be a slim chance that I will be read by everyone around Asia. Besides, my writing skills had become so appalling these days, that I think I should... expand my vocabulary by reading porn magazines. hehehe.

Tholitz Star System Applies For Rice Bowl Membership
Fullmetal Dreams
April 26, 2004

A gay blogger was non-existent. Kung mayroon man na mga pink writers noon, asahan mo na exclusive rin sila sa isa't isa. A few would bother leaving a comment on your blog or send an email - to encourage you to write more. Nobody would invite you to join their group and if ever you are blogging alone, good luck na lang sa paghahanap ng readers sa cyberspace.

For the longest time, solace came from the fact that nobody reads me. Sulat lang ng sulat, tutal, ako lang naman ang reader ng aking blog. Walang masama maging emo. Okay lang kahit sablay sa grammar at kahit patapon man ang iba sa aking naging entries, ang mahalaga ay malaya ang sinuman na maglabas ng kanyang saloobin.

Hindi nagtagal at unti-unting nagsipagtamaran mag-blog ang mga kaibigan ko. Expression was not really their thing. Pati yung kabarkada ko na nagpauso ng blogging sa tropa ay huminto rin. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali sa nangyari sa amin, sa blog lumalabas ang di-pagkakaunawaan ng mga tao.  Sa blog nag-aaway ang mga nag-split. Ang isa naman ay sa blog sinulat ang kanyang sexcapades na ikina-trauma ng buong barkada.  Pati ako na walang outlet para ilabas ang sama ng loob matapos magkatuhugan ang dalawang kaibigan ko pati si ex ay nakigaya rin.  It would take some time before I met the real gay bloggers na nagsisimula pa lang noon. There was Eon and also Mcvie, but a year would still pass before I met the two of them personally.

Naalala ko ang nakaraan nang makakuwentuhan ang isang neophyte recently. Sabi niya ay matagal na siyang reader pero naiintimidate siya gumawa ng sarili niyang blog dahil baka ma-judge ang kanyang writing sa paraang di katanggap-tanggap ng iba. Nakikinig ako sa kanyang kuwento, pero at the back of my head, parang gusto ko maramdaman kung paano maging bagong blogger ulit.  Nakakamiss yung feeling na makapag-express for the first time: yung pakiramdam na may isang reader na nag-iwan ng comment sa unang entry mo.

We have different reasons for writing, and different ways to get others  read our blog. Marami ang tahimik na magli-link ng blog mo sa blog nila. Ang iba nagiging follower at ang mangilan-ngilan ay may kakaibang trip gaya ng pag-iiwan ng general comment na may kasamang link papunta sa blog nila.

Sabi nila mahirap maging blogger dahil mahirap humanap ng topic. Kung mahirap humanap ng topic, higit na challenging kung paano sisimulan at tatapusin ang pagsusulat. Pagkatapos gumawa ng entry, naroon ang anxiety kung ito ba ay babasahin o hindi. Kung mayroon ba na magcocomment o wala. These things, napagdaanan ko na and the greatest lesson I learned comes from writing from the heart.

Hindi nagtatagal ang manunulat na pa-impress lang.

Many bloggers are celebrating their anniversaries and 100th entries this week. It was a long and eventful journey and being one of the precursors still around,

Out of boredom, I confided my story to one of my closest female co-trainee.

It was during the time when I felt that I was already loosing my PLU touch, that I was already loosing my identity as a non-straight.

Perhaps I was too concerned about the endless pairings our co-trainees to us, that I was prompted to tell the truth. To assure her of my intentions and hopefully to loose those inhibitions she had erected because of the situation.

Trust me, she didn't believed me at first. She thought that I was just making it up.

Only after several assurances did she ever believed in my revelation. Kulang na lang, ikalat niya sa paligid namin na ganun ako.

Before I Let Go
Fullmetal Dreams
July 30, 2004 - Hiatus before returning to blogspace four months later.  All early entries were untouched. I used to be a very lousy writer.

kinagagalak ko na makasama kayo sa lakbay ng buhay.

Write on.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ang Cheese Curls Ni Manong Potpot

Naging ruta na ni Manong Potpot ang eskinita sa labas ng aming lumang bahay. Tuwing alas tres ng hapon ang kanyang dating - tamang tama bago mag Batibot na kasunod naman ay Carebears na noon ay sa Channel 4 pinapalabas. Sa basketball court na ang tawag sa amin ay Badjao, maririnig ang busina ng paparating na kariton. Dali-daling magsisilabasan ang mga bata't mga tambay mula sa kanilang mga bahay na nag-uunahan sa snack na pinapalit ng magkakariton.

Palibhasa ay salat sa barya, pasimple akong kakaripas ng takbo patungong labahan. Masukal ang lugar at ang katabi noon ay ang bodega. Doon nakatago ang mga bote na ginagamit kong pamalit sa Cheese Curls na pang trade-in ni Manong Potpot sa halip na pera.

Makailang beses na akong sinabihan ng matatanda na marumi daw ang Cheese Curls. Maraming ulit na rin akong napalo dahil sa pagiging pasaway ko. Pero sino ba naman ang hindi makakapigil sa Cheese Curls ni Manong. Bukod sa lasa itong Chickadees, (na laging may libreng laruan na kasama ang bawat pack) ang tunay na selling point ng curls ay ang pagiging libre nito.

Nakalagay ang Cheese Curls sa isang dambuhalang transparent na supot katabi ng mga boteng nakoleta ni Manong Potpot sa buong araw na pag-iikot. Hindi ko alam kung ilang araw bago maubos ang laman ng plastic, pero anong silbi ng kaalamang ito sa batang laging gutom? Ang bawat boteng pamalit (na kadalasan ay Tanduay o kaya naman ay Silver Swan) ay katumbas ng isang takal na nilalagay ng magkakariton sa lumang diyaryo na binalot na parang cone. Ni minsan ay hindi sumakit ang tiyan ko dito. Nagkabulate man ako (sa kadahilanang hindi connected sa Cheese Curls) pero ayos lang, matamis naman ang Combatrin.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I still remember the smirk on your face when I confessed to you my fear of frogs. You said how could a big guy like me freeze on the spot when I can easily squish the poor creature with my 12 inch foot. Your comment came after a toad leaped out of nowhere stopping us dead on our tracks. The appearance of the insolent amphibian cut short our stroll along the banks. It was after a brief downpour on a chilly Wednesday evening.

It was our first date on a very inconspicuous day that ended up extraordinarily fun for us. I didn't show my pleasure, and you know of course that I'm a good-for-nothing sloth who shuts down at the strike of nineteen O'clock. You chose Halo Halo for dessert while I had a Sundae Glass of Cookies and Cream. We shared a platter of French Fries while trading stories...

hoping to get to know more about ourselves.

Who would have thought remembering would be this painful - up to the last detail - even your Ondoy story as well as the bluff that you would order me to wear a toad-wallet around my neck for reasons only known to me.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.

Dropping by unannounced at the same spot did not prepare me for the flood of memories. My apparition was intentional. Bittersweet. Solitary. Yet it cemented every good thought we keep. I shall not pass the same road again nor allow another memory to desecrate the sacred ground that is forever mine. For all its worth, thank you for everything. I have learned so much.

A part of you will always be with me.

"Minister Leanthele..." the aide was rushing towards the esteemed statesman.

"Yes, How may I help you?"

"We regret to inform you that only two out of seven magistrates from the Havok tribe chose to join us."

"Ahhh! The Black Suns chose to stay behind... We respect their decision."

"The two magistrates will attend the covenant when you gather again after planetrise."

"Very well then. In behalf of the Star Riders, please extend our gratitude to our old comrades." the minister said. "We would also need their voice once the covenant cast their votes."

"Please allow me to ask, what vote are you referring to."

"When your high lords ask, tell them the Dream Walkers would like to undergo a long sleep."

Meanwhile, the Planetship begins to power up its four massive nacelles for its gentle push out of orbit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

MTV Generation

There was a time when it was possible to watch MTV without the torture of having to see reality shows inserted between music video programs. These reality shows, with shallow and overused plots revolving around a bunch of kids and their teenage angst have been the staple of music channels for years. Blame the shift on generation taste. The kids-turned-adults who now tune in to other cable channels are the ones who never changed.

But things were different over a decade ago. Being denied access to technology and budget to produce expensive videos, directors were often forced to harness their creativity to make up for the shortfall. Artistically rendered music videos with sublime and hidden stories could trigger a discourse on pop culture among children. Good merits heavily depended on how the song made sense after its music video interpretation.

Before MTV, there was the Video Hits Parade on Channel 2. Mom and I used to watch the show to pass time on lazy weekends. When Skycable finally linked our television sets with the rest of the world, one of the first music videos I saw was Alanis Morisettes' Ironic. The video was plain and there was nothing much to see. It features Morisette on a roadtrip with her three clones playing as passengers. A pastiche of her other selves doing silly things while singing the song form most of the scenes. For an average kid today, the video would not even struck a chord. But for us back then it was a trendsetter.

Ironic would go down in history as one of the best music videos of 1996. The end product maybe a far cry from Lady Gaga's creations but then, it may have inspired dozens of artists including the Fame Monster to stick with their dream and become performers themselves in the future.

In following the footsteps of lady Beckham, here are my top five music videos.

December 2 Chapter VII
Taken By Cars

Literal meanings of the song may have been lost to interpretation, but the video did not. Behind the bubble gum symbolisms, a hooded fox chasing an androgynous girl, soft lights twinkling in the dark and a wailing lady singing at the background is a brooding suicidal theme centered around the inescapable despair of loneliness.

Final Distance
Utada Hikaru

The Japanese have always been masters of rendering scenes with surreal elements. Final Distance is a ballad dedicated to Rena Yamashita, a young girl who was brutally stabbed in a school rampage in Japan. To reflect what Utada have felt at the senseless killing, (the girl had previously mentioned that she wanted to become a song writer like Utada when she grows up) Hikaru created two limbo-like worlds in the music video where the main protagonist is coddled by grotesque figures but remain trapped in her own prison. Before the video end, the protagonist reunites with her other self setting off the camera to pan out and reveal that the worlds were actually a floating island drifting in space.

Smashing Pumpkins

Gone is the age romanticized in this video. It follows a day in the life of three disaffected kids driving around in a Dodge Charger.

The music video is based on the concept of an idealized version of a teenage life, while also trying to capture the feeling of being bored as a teenager. The video struck me hard when I was in college. Somehow I understood the hidden message which was to enjoy the sights of life for one will never pass the same road again.

Billy Corgan once lamented "The video was the closest we've ever come to realizing everything we wanted" True to his words, we remember 1979 now as the Golden Age of Alternative music genre.

I Don't Want To Wait
Paula Cole

Paula Cole's music video depicts an immortal woman living through different times only to see her lovers cross the afterlife. Each period rolls into a new age when she runs around a room full of clocks. The fine gowns representing Elizabethan, Baroque and Pre-War periods capture one's imagination of timelessness. Her dance steps at the beginning (with Cole's arms flailing like the hands of time) mimics how things change while the protagonist remains the same. I used to spend an entire day tuned in to MTV just to see this video, but my efforts were all in vain. I Don't Want To Wait was the least aired in the music channel among my top five.

Here is Gone
Goo Goo Dolls

This video has produced a cult following. In my opinion, Here is Gone echoes 1979's concept of an idealized version of a teenage life. But the difference lies with how the coming of age took many forms and symbols here: the crawling caterpillar at the beginning turning into a moth at the song's closing, the time lapse shot of the sun as it journeys across the sky, a boy hurling a pebble hitting a road sign that says "end," a woman dancing on top of a broken car. For its rich imagery and feel good sound, Here is Gone stays as my favorite music video of all time.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Head Is A Cotton Candy

I am suffering from a writer's block. I have tons of ideas to share but when I put expressions into words, I balk even before completing my first sentence. It usually happens at the middle of the month. There is no point in denying that I am subdued by my creative limitations. I envy those who write spontaneously like some bloggers I know. After all these years of refining my craft, I ended up restrained by my own obsession with aesthetics.

Anyway, let me do an experiment by writing as fluid as I could, while my head regurgitates my thoughts. Shall we?

Woke up at 3 pm after going home at 5 in the morning. Guess where I came from? Kuya Pawpaw said I slept with someone. I texted, "yeah! joined an orgy. wahaha!" just to annoy the kid. Truth is, I was with friends last night watching some lean, brown hunks swerve their hips and twist their sweaty bodies while electronic sounds relentlessly pounded our eardrums. I was playing God [place gender here] as well to someone I just brought inside a club. With the same gay crowd, the same set of House tracks and the same energy I felt after being in the courtyard for the first time many years ago,

Swear, O - O is the new Bed!

Two evenings ago, I found myself strolling the canopied grounds of Diliman with a friend who just came from a separation. I say separation and not break-up because their set up is unfamiliar to most gay people. Let's just say that my friend lived under one roof with another guy. They even shared the same bed. At first glance, an uninformed chap would think they were a couple. Well, they're not!

They never slept with each other.

I thought there was hope for these two men. After all, they've been together for more than a year. The other guy would call my friend every day. They both go to the same gym and my friend even cooked for him. The male companion may have all the trappings of a heterosexual, but living together with someone who had already professed his sexuality, and even expressed his desire to be with you, and still let him look after your well-being is very confusing.

"I guess you're there to prop him up - I know a lot of straight guys like that." I explained.

"Baka naman in-denial siya, dalhin ko kaya sa inuman ng mga engkantos para ma-convert." I even suggested.

"Maybe he's just afraid that your "relationship" is becoming too complicated. He may had suffocated by your presence so he pushed you away." He agreed.

In the end, my friend and I both realized that too much expectations lead to a breakdown of relationship. With my friend, he was expecting that the bond with his male companion may go beyond the realms of friendship - which it didn't. In my case, failing my own set of expectations lead me to break bonds without considering the feelings of the other person.

"No wonder, platonic friendships work longer."

Two days later, the other guy texted "Sorry."

It was insincere.

Two days ago, Mister Deja Vu and I started texting again. Before we ended our conversation, he asked how was Cuycuy.

Cuycuy is the name he gave to my prick.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Black Hole

Naglalakad ako habang nagyoyosi nang maaninag na bukas pa ang ilaw sa pintuan na katapat ng aming bahay. Sumilip ako para maki-usyoso. Maraming labada sa paligid. Karaniwang ginagawang laundry area ang lugar na iyon, pero ngayon pa lang may naglaba ng hatinggabi. Ang pintuang iyon na gawa sa rehas na bakal ay maraming gamit. Palibhasa ay may katabi kaming Sari Sari Store kaya doon nagsisipaglabasan ang mga boarders sa tuwing sila ay may bibilhin sa tindahan. Ang backdoor ring iyon ang ginagawang secret exit sa tuwing maraming nakaharang sa pintuan palabas sa daan ng nasabing bahay.

Subalit para sa akin, ang pintuang iyon ang saksi kung paano ko pinairal ang tawag ng laman nang minsang hinayaan kong ang kapilyuhan ang maghari sa akin. Galing ako sa burol ni President Cory at madaling araw na ako nakauwi sa amin. Sa kanto malapit sa bahay ay may nakatayong binata na tila may iniintay. Nagtama ang aming tingin. Mula sa simpleng kamustahan ay nauwi sa kapaan ang aming usapan. Sa madaling sabi ay may mangyayari. Ngunit, bago pa ako makapagtanong ng place ay inamin niyang kami ay magkapitbahay. Sa tapat lang pala namin siya nakatira.

Natuloy ang digmaang kama, at makailang beses na dumaan siya sa likod na pintuang iyon upang dumiretso sa aming sala. Minsan, sa sobrang libog ay kahit sa driveway ay nasubukan namin magsubuan. Sa bawat baon ng aking talong sa kanyang bibig, mata ko ay umaaligid. Patay man ang lahat ng ilaw pero mahirap pa rin at baka may makasilip.

Ilang gabing ganun ang aming naging laro. Minsan nga ay kulang na lang na sa mismong tabi ng pintuang iyon kami magpasabog ng tamod. Natapos ang lahat ng siya na rin ang kusang dumistansya. Kunsabagay ay tawag lang ng laman ang habol namin sa isa't isa. Marami pa ang matatagpuan sa tabi tabi.

Ako ay muling sumulyap upang tingnan kung sino ang naglalaba. Naaninag ko ang isang lalaki. Matangkad ang binata, moreno at balingkinitan ang katawan. Ito ay napatingin habang binabawi ko ang aking mga mata. Sa dinami dami ng lalaking boarder na nakatira roon, tanging isa lang ang hindi ko malilimutan.

Tangina, sarap ulitin ng dati! Yung lalabas ka ng walang brief na panloob, yung pasimpleng makikipag-kuwentuhan sabay biglang dakma ng kamay para ipasok sa loob ng iyong shorts. Siya naman na adik rin ay mabilis na kakagat. Hagod... hagod... hanggang sa ang alaga mo ay tumayo. Hagod... hagod... mauupo ka sa silyang gawa sa kahoy habang lalaruin rin ang sa kanya. Matapos magpatigas, uutusan mong gawin niya ang pagsubo. Ipipikit mo ang iyong mga mata habang pinagmamasdan kung paano mag-disappear si tutuy sa kanyang mainit na bunganga. Shit. Those were the days. Kay sarap balik balikan lalo pa at ito ay bawal.

Nakakatuwang isipin na habang nakasakay sa jeep pauwi ng bahay. Buo ang loob ko na paabutin hanggang Enero bago makipag-ulayaw sa iba. Pero ngayong ang nakahubad na laman ay isang sipol lang, tila naghahamon ang tadhana.

Si Hood Kid.

Mabilis akong pumasok ng bahay at nag-lock ng pinto bago pa may makapansin. Mabuti na ang magbate kesa maulit ang pagkakamali.

Sapagkat gaano man kadambuhala ang kanyang alaga at gaano man siya kahayok sa kama, malinaw ang dikta ng damdamin.

Ang nakaraan ay mananatiling nakaraan.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

En La Clase De Español

I always think of not attending
my Spanish class
with its boring teacher
who only talks, talks, talks


words I cannot comprehend
a dead language
trying to be revived
like old music
like old memories

En la Clase de Español,
Insomniac's Call, I Second Year

I was a sophomore when Spanish was introduced. It was part of the curriculum: a directive from the frailes behind the Royal Pontifical University. The estudiantes were eager to learn. We were after all, men and women of letters. However, all hopes of learning suddenly faded when the maestro finally came to class. The disappointment happened when he spoke in fluent Spanish during the first day without translating all the words he said.

"This is how you learn Spanish."

Spanish used to be the political, intellectual and business language of Manila. That was in the 1900's. Today, it is spoken mostly by the old rich and by those who can pretend to be members of the upper class. It is a dead language in this part of the world and despite the loaned words including the dialects which traces their mother tongue in Spain, it will never become the lingua franca of the country again.

This sad reality must be the reason why the professor never pushed forth the goal of learning. He would talk in Spanish while the students were pretending to listen. I was more obvious with my protestations. Aside from doodling in front of him (and making a lousy poetry out of frustration) I once submitted an assignment mistranslating an entire paragraph by substituting English with Spanish word for word.

"Ese hombre es un tonto"

Once, I asked another instructor if she could allow me to sit in her class. It was a desperate attempt to catch up and learn from the subject since the preliminaries was fast approaching. The snooty teacher, who is also the assistant dean, was gracious enough to welcome my presence. She only allowed me to observe but the exposure had given me a sneak peak at how the language was taught elsewhere.

Fate pulled a bad joke when the professor assigned to our section became ill and was unable to attend our afternoon class. He was confined to bed for the rest of the semester and was replaced by a moderate instructor who would at least translate the Spanish words she taught.

At least.

I received a passing grade in Spanish 101. The next time the subject was offered in my junior year, I had to become Sra. Soresca's pet just to get a grade of tres. By then, we learned that languages not used in conversations are bound to be forgotten. It was how Latin disappeared in the tongues of civilizations. It was also how I converted back to my mother tongue after two semesters of trying to learn a dead language.

Me Llamo Sueño. Estudio Español

That was until I discovered that a student must pass a language exam before he could begin his Thesis in Masters.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


"The planetship no longer speaks to us."

"Is that so? Have we totally abandoned the vessel?" Hakkuna inquired.

"We have no idea Chief Magistrate." Sufoni said "After the rest of the Havok wing left the ship for planetfall, only a handful of our soldiers and their families stayed behind."

"I see. And how about the Altair wing? What do our sources tell?"

"Most of them too have left the orbiter. They find the planet a good place to lose themselves and do some soul searching."

"Wandering tree hugger losers! Hah!"

"But a few of them have returned to the vessel just recently."

"And do you know the reason why?"

"Apparently, they cannot let go of the stars, like the dreamwalkers who still reside within the ship."

"Aren't they tired of exploring? We have always longed for a soft ground to walk our feet and build our first real cities! Why do they insist of leaving to sail the great endlessness?"

"Perhaps it is in their nature sir." Sufoni explained while looking at the silhouette of the planetship rising outside the chamber-sized window. "Our books tell that it was the dreamwalkers who built the ship and left the old planet."

"Do you still remember why we left the old planet Sufoni?"

"I still remember, like the dreamwalkers do."

"Then tell me why?"

"Widespread famine has left millions of our people dead. The old world was becoming hot and dry. The star riders, the dreamwalkers and the true inhabitants of the planet were searching for ways to cool it down, but our ancestors, the rebellious black suns held secret meetings with some dreamwalkers to obtain knowledge on how to make run for the stars."

"Go on... I'm listening." The chief magistrate was looking at some maps drawn recently by the state cartographers.

"Constructing a large vessel would alarm the original inhabitants so they built a small craft - the precursor of our planetship whose purpose was to make jumps in outer space. The true dwellers didn't know we are already warp capable at the time our people were being neglected while tilling the rest of their land."

"Why can't I remember?"

"Because all we did was to plot the downfall of the union. That is why I am telling you what the book has written."

"Tell me more Sufoni. All I remember were the planets.

"Ahh the planets, the worlds that refused us! The worlds we learned not to trust no matter how promising they were!"

"Anyway, one night, a bomb detonated at the heart of the planetary capital. It sparked global condemnation. Scores of those who died were the originals. Fingers pointed at the star riders - for plotting such genocide. We don't know what really happened, but the carnage left the originals too stunned to diffuse the growing conflict. Overnight, riots broke out in every city between their people and ours. Sadly, hunger and frustration also lead our people to turn against one another."

"That was breathtaking, but you have to finish your story. I am getting sleepy..."

"To continue, the tiny craft which could house hundreds of souls was nearing completion. FTL drives were just installed and the habitation modules were yet to be tested. The minds behind the vessel thought a delay would ruin the project. From their secret hideaway far from the cities, the black suns involved in the construction, the dreamwalkers and some star riders sympathetic to the cause blasted off from the planet."


"Yes sir. Until now, it is taboo to make contact with the old planet. We don't know the fate of those left behind."

"Isn't it sad that we have never forgotten our tragedy up to now?"

"But what can we do? Even when we embraced planets, our spirits have always thought of the stars?

"I'm sure you know the reasons why... But you have to keep your words to yourself. Such expressions maybe against the collective desires of our people."

"I understand. Magistrate..."

"Well you have to leave now. Its getting late and the ministry would still have to debate its plans to expand our borders tomorrow." Hakkuna stretched his arms and yawned as Sufoni walked out of the room.

"It seems we are meant to be the only civilization on this planet."

A terrestrial message was sent later that night. It was a brief correspondence. A relayed frustration from one enlightened spark to another.

"The Havok wing will stay behind. Only a few hundred of us will join the jump."

"We tried our best Sufoni. You know the code. Our agents will spirit you out of your base."

"Make it quick. Dissenters like me are being tracked down."

Sufoni never left. Several days after making contact, his quarters burned down and the authorities blamed electrical failure for the fire. He was sleeping together with his four wives and two children when they were incinerated. No Havok wing dissenter has escaped the planet as far as everyone knows.

Not on official records of course.

It was also the last time the orbiter directly spoke to any world.

Images from Homeworld

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ang Makasalanang Selecta, Bow

Sabi ng mga kids na sa ice cream cone na lang daw i-drop ang scoop para lahat makakatikim. Dagdag pa nila, masarap daw dilaan ang ice cream cookies and cream habang ito ay natutunaw sa malutong na apa. Hirit naman ng mga matatanda na sa baso na lang itakal ang ice cream. Bukod sa hindi makalat, matunaw man ito ay isang higupan lang. Subalit para kay EJ Falcon na natamaan ng isang kudlit na Coffee Crunch sa kanyang hita dahil sa kakulitan nito, ibang klaseng himod ang naisip nitong ipagawa.

Tinawag ni EJ si Bunso. Walang nagawa si Bunso kung hindi ang sumunod kahit kasing talas pa ng balisong ang tingin ni Dingding sa kanya. Ang Dingding na walang malay ay napatakan rin ng Ice Cream. Gets niyo na marahil ang ginawa ng tropa para maging quits ang dalawang kutong lupa kahit pa maglupasay sa sahig ang isa sa kanila.

contrary sa kumakalat na balita na puro adik sa gym ang mga engkanto. Proud rin kami sa mga bilbil namin.

Sa madaling sabi ay pumatak kung saan saan ang Ice Cream. Pati ang mga busilak at dalisay gaya ni hung guy ay hindi nakatakas. Mismong ang nakaisip magbitbit ng Selecta ay inakusahang may motibo sa kanyang ginawa.

Natapos ang inuman na lahat ay nanlalagkit dahil sa Selecta. Sabi nga ng Sgt at Arms na bawal na ihalo ang Ice Cream sa beer next time na may tagayan. Masakit daw ito sa tiyan. Pero hindi ang makasalanang sorbetes ang puno't dulo ng inuman. Sapagkat kung mayroon mang dahilan bakit nagsipagpuntahan ang barkada at nagpakalasing hanggang alas sais ng umaga.

walang bara-barako basta blow ang usapan.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

House Party

Kasunduan ay inuman. Subalit dahil salat sa pera ay bahay ang naging tagpuan. Isang tao ang taya sa lugar samantalang chip-in naman ang mga dayo sa bibilhin. Gilbey's at Ginebra ang madalas pang-toma. Minsan ay Tanduay na bilog para masaya. Bihira ang beer noon, unless Red Horse o kaya Colt ang babanatan. Okay lang kahit Tortillos o Chippy ang handa. Naranasan ko nga na mag Skyflakes na dinurog sa Spicy Century Tuna na pulutan. Kapag birthday party ng kasamang babae, asahan mo ang Jose Cuervo sa lamesa. Roundhouse sa isang kuwarto. Madalas ay sa sala para iwas sala sa mga mahilig magsuka at gumawa ng eksena. Shot glass na umiikot, pasa-pasa sa bawat labi ng katabi. Sounds sa stereo ay RnB. "Do You Believe In Me?" tanong nga ni Eric Gadd. Minsan ay may sumasayaw sa tabi ng speaker. Madalas may lumalabas na scoop. "Crush ko si kuwan," "Naging kami niyan," "Binasted ako ni Miss Arts and Letters," "Nagdate kami nung ex mo nung kayo pa."

"Mahal mo ba ako?"

Kanya kanyang storya. Kanya kanyang suray patungo sa banyo para umihi at mag-ayos ng hitsura. Habang lumalalim ang gabi, patuloy ang tagay ng bangkero. May ilan na magpapahangin sa labas. Nagpapausok ng Marlboro sa paligid. Sa kapayapaan ng gabi; sa katahimikan ng mga bituin; minsan ay hindi mapigilan mangarap saksi ang piping langit. Ilan ang maglalakas loob maglakad papuntang 7-Eleven. Short na sa yelo. Ubos na ang chaser. Kelangan pa ng dagdag pulutan. Sa totoo lang ay gusto mag-angas. Mang-inggit sa sinumang nakakalat pa sa lansangan.

At kapag nagsimula na ang tumbahan, isa isang mawawala ang mga kasalo sa round table. May mahihiga sa sofa, may mauupo sa tabi ng telepono. Makikipagtelebabad sa crush. Magtatawag ng kaibigan para ipakausap sa iniibig. Ang iba ay susuka, ang iba ay maghahanap ng hahaplusin. Ang mga patawa ay mang-aasar. Ang kupal, tumatahimik sa tabi. Ang sinumang last man standing ang tigalinis. Tigabuhat ng sumalampak sa tabi. Ang bantay ng grupo habang ang lahat ay bangenge sa paligid.

Pagsikat ng araw. Kapag ang mga ibon ay humuni na sa paligid. Kapag ang mga lasing ay nagsibangon na at nagsiuwi sa kanilang mga bahay baon ang hangover. Kapag lipas na ang mga araw at ang mga eskandalong nangyari dahil sa impluwensya ng alkohol ay kumalat na. Kapag dumaan na ang mga taon at muli, isang Sabado, isang tropa sa isang grupong di gaanong kakaiba sa mga tropang pinakisamahan mo noong iyong kabataan ang biglang nagtawag ng house party

sa kanyang munting espasyo.

Hindi mo maiiwasan hukayin ang baul ng nakaraan at tanggapin ng buong lugod ang katotohanang sa ganitong inuman nagiging malalim ang samahan.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Today marks the end of Ramadan. Eid'l Fitr as the sacred tradition is known, is a joyous celebration of grace and purification that is important to Muslims as the celebration of Christmas to Christians. Families get up as early as 4 in the morning to walk to the mosque and pray. They gather for a feast after the morning prayers to break the month of fasting. Children receive gifts and candies from adults and acts of charity are performed to ease the suffering of the less fortunate.

While many Filipinos may not be aware of the significance of this day, (save for a long weekend that was declared early last week) our lack of understanding of the Eid reflects the need to cross the divide and rediscover our forgotten heritage.

It was a non-working holiday. I went to the barber shop to have my haircut done. Workout was postponed for tomorrow after I left the bed late in the afternoon. The Eid celebration has not escaped my thoughts and to take advantage of this once-in-a-year event, I went to Quiapo to observe how the Muslims celebrate their tradition.

The streets around "Muslim Town" were empty. For the uninstructed, the growing community is the block next to where the pirated dibidis are sold. I saw several young women wearing hijab around their head walking towards a nearby mosque. Their fine dresses oppose the rows of shanties along a creek where most of them live. Old men wearing Thawb white gown and Taqiyah cap gather inside a restaurant below a transient house. A visitor will immediately notice that the dish displayed behind the glass counter make up of fish and chicken cuisine. I sat in one of the tables and listened as several distinguished men conversed in their Moro dialect.

And while my goal was to get inside the Golden Mosque for the evening prayers, the exposure trip had to be cut short out of lack of preparation for the things I would face ahead. Years of prejudice between two people has whiffed an air of distrust that is not hard for an outsider to feel inside the community. Twice I was asked if I would sign up for the "Balik Islam" program, which I denied. Suddenly, the people I spoke to lost their interest as if I was there to mock their religion.

The display of ambivalence was totally understandable. As far as everyone knows, no pilgrim from another religion would dare drop by a mosque unannounced and claim to observe their customs on a special holiday. It would be difficult to explain as to why I went there alone to partake in their Eid'l Fitr even when I am not of the same faith. If only I had made some preparations for this expedition, such as reaching out to a devout Muslim to accompany me on this trip, perhaps I would appreciate the sights and sounds better.

But this is just the beginning. Returning next year with the purpose of dipping my finger deeper into Islam's pool of wisdom will be my aspiration. I may not embrace the faith altogether - like some of those I spoke with had assumed - a truth is always revealed by paying close attention to the little things I find along the way.

Before leaving the Muslim Town to return home, a rugged young boy much like those who raise their hand asking for spare change in Plaza Miranda blocked my path. It was quite unordinary knowing the people around the Golden Mosque know one another. I would have ignored the kid fearing others would follow, but it was the festival of purification and part of the essence of understanding a tradition is to live how the faithful does.

"E-i-di Mu-barak!" I said before the kid walked away with some coins in his hand.

Indeed, wherever you find yourself in,

religion or no religion,

some tenets of humanity remain.

One Trash Less

Past midnight.

With a throat parched for a sweet drink, I cross the empty boulevard where the warm lights of C-Mart awaits. Pushing the glass door open, I glide to where refreshments line inside the man-sized fridge to pick my bottled drink. On this melancholic morning, I choose Fit N' Right Grape Flavor. A few weeks ago it was Minute Maid Pulpy Orange. Last month it was C2 Green Tea.

My taste varies from time to time, but like habits meant to be unbroken, I recall what to say before the cashier hands over my change.

Walking towards the droopy lad in front of the cash register, images of trash floating along the river passing under the Sevilla Bridge foul my head. Kalentong, the street after the crossing bear the brunt of face-deep floods when the swollen river bursts its banks. To see how brackish the waterway is as I go to work triggers a repulsion, what more to learn that half the trash forcibly cradled downstream comes from the stores I often haunt.

"Huwag mo na i-plastic kuya..." The droopy lad returns the bag under the desk.

Leaving the store without a word, it has always been like this ever since the world began to act strange. With floods inundating entire countries and fires scorching vast forests; With storms lashing out against battered islands and quakes shaking the earth more violently, relinquishing the free bag might be too little an effort for one person.

But imagine if millions of people embrace the same habit.

Perhaps, it's not too late to save a planet.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Unholiest

And Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

— John 8:32

"It all began with the burning of the book."

"What book?" Kamana asked.

"The Koran."

"I didn't know there's such a book."

"Of course, it is forbidden to read its texts nowadays."


"Because religion incites hate and violence. It murders entire tribes and burn hundreds of nations. Nothing good comes out from practicing a blind faith."

"Tell me more Sahidi."

"About 500 years before our time, in a land known as Florida, a priest announces the burning of the Book."

"The Koran?"


"The priest claims he represents his religion. That he is standing up for the truth; that the religion behind the Koran sows evil upon the world." Sahidi continued.

"The rest of the world did its best to stop the priest from desecrating the holy scripture but their condemnation fell on deaf ears. He burned hundreds of Koran in front of the cameras on the ninth year after the two towers crumbled."

"The World Trade Center."

"You know our history well Kamana... but the island where it once stood is no more."

"It was a gift to the sea." Kamana was referring to the great deluge that happened forty years after the first extinction war.

"The flames of hate was fanned even further by a suicide attack on Vatican itself. We know the ruins as New Jerusalem now."

"So what happened?"

"People turned against one another. Neighbor kills his neighbor, kin massacres his kin." A nuclear strike at the heart of America brought civilization down to a standstill.

"Entire governments fell as the most powerful nation on the planet engaged itself on a global witch hunt."

"Is that how the United States of America collapsed?"

"It was the beginning of the end. Other powerful nations put their armies together to face a collective threat. Meanwhile, this land you know as USA was already decaying from within."

"So a civil war finished off the country?"

"Yes after it destroyed the rest of the world."

"Wow! Why are these things not taught anymore?"

"Because the truth hurts. Five centuries and humanity still could not forgive itself for its insanity."

"Is this the reason why we are so few now?"

"Yes, and this is why the rest of us live underground, practices a faith venerating a dead planet and celebrates a birth of a child with much joy and exaltation."

"Lucky are those who are never born in our time."

"Yes... I wonder how life was during those days."

"Read this..." Kamana took the piece of parched paper from Sahidi's hand.

Another commonly quoted passage is that we should "do unto others as we would have them do unto us". Very true. If someone you love is about to walk in front of a Mac truck and be killed, I would very much like them to yell and scream and be as offensive as they need to be to get me to wake up and get out of the way! Islam is dangerous. It's dangerous to Muslims because it is teaching them that Jesus Christ is not the way, yet he is. Islam is dangerous to non-Muslims because Muhammad taught and practiced violence toward non-Muslims. Islam is kind of like that Mac truck.

Please also note that our actions do not spring from fear or anger. We wish to speak the truth. Because we love Muslims, Christians, Atheists and everyone else, we want them to see and find the truth. You will find that truth in the Bible, the word of God.

The threat of radical Islam will be very real, regardless of our actions. Islam is radical at its most fundamental level, the Koran. Burning or not burning the Koran will not make that go away and the whole world needs desperately to see the truth.

"Sad how one act of madness had almost triggered the end of mankind."


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fit And Right

"Uy parang lumaki ka yata?"

"Talaga, as in tumaba ako?"

"Hindi naman... pero bagay yan sa iyo... Muscles." Yeah right. Like truth bends when a person takes back his word.

"Honga eh. I'm gaining weight..." Sadness. There, there. Don't be upset big boy.

At 170 pounds, the fat explosion is alarming. Pants and shirts snug closely around my waist and body movement exacts great labor despite keeping an active lifestyle.

If not for the religious but waning addiction to head to the gym three times a week and lift heavier iron plates at a faster pace, I would have lost all my gains from the work-out program.

The present built is far from my body frame two years ago. I was transferred to the afternoon shift and heavy meals were eaten only during lunchtime. Dinner consist of a drab Quaker Oats meal without sugar then workout starts before midnight. I was directly competing with my gym-buddy, El Tigre for the weight lost award then. The result was astounding. My weight dropped below 160 pounds for several weeks and despite my large bone structure, I felt good.

The combination of a fast-paced workout, (the EDT program Coach Blakedaddy introduced as the new routine, which I will discuss in another entry) a Spartan diet plan and another element, which is Del Monte Fit N Right were my reasons for the sudden drop in body mass.

Information I have gathered about L-Carnatine was rather scant and unverified. There are no scientific claims to show (according to Wikipedia) that the compound directly triggers any fat-burning reaction. However, regular consumption of Fit N Right reveals a change in metabolism. I say regular drinking of the Pineapple variant for one week results in a 5 lbs drop in body weight.

Now that I started embracing the old ways, (including the oatmeal banana diet as my carbo-loader) Del Monte claims its place back. The Blueberry-Grape variant, which is 30 calories less than Pineapple promises a swift turnaround never seen before. Forget that it taste nothing close to Blueberry, the calorie itself is already a reward.

It took me less than a month to shed some fats when I first included the supplement in my diet. Confident that a repeat performance is as rewarding as the last, I give myself a month to make a dent and overturn my flaccid state.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Satellite Transmission

tanong ko lang sa langit
kung bakit pumangit

na ang dating masaya
ngayo'y panay problema
bumabalot sa buto
o bakit ganito...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Word From The Hacienda

A family conference was called to discuss the fate of our fiefdoms in the land of Moryonan. Those in attendance were my aging mother, the alpha-female Favorite Aunt, the Businessman-Aunt and Tita Beauty. Another cousin was also sucked into the conversation through a deliberate inclusion of a younger generation to resolve the matter.

The issue rose from a trusted land tenant who phoned a katiwala the previous week. The tenant said the land was being partitioned by the Department of Agrarian Reform without the approval of the heirs of my grandparents. Ruffled feathers lead to a rapid action from my side of the family. A rival stakeholder apparently approved the division claiming the entire realm was theirs for the taking.

The Businessman-Aunt was dispatched. Too bad, she didn't bring her brand new Toyota Fortuner to rub off her newly acquired wealth to the snooty provincials. I was supposed to join the reconquest if not for the four-day absence I would incur at work. At the end of the week, the holdings were secured and the tenants pacified. The land that is my grandfather's stay under the dominion of the family.

Later that day, two distant relatives showed up to coordinate matters with the principal bargainer. Losing control of their stakes, they eventually entrusted the arrangements to my Businessman-Aunt. For the first time in recent memory, I saw the wealth of several families join forces for a single cause. How I wished our fortunes had never changed. We could play our part by placing two gun-slinging bodyguards to escort my aunt. Just the same, our interest lies in the collective decision of the family. Our strength depends on our tight-knit bonds. It will never change.

Concerns that were discussed include the plummeting prices of Copra, the growing resistance from squatters claiming their piece of land and tenants confused as to the right landlord to follow. Maps were laid out on the table, as well as the land titles for better presentation. Word is, the ownership transfer from my forefathers to the heirs were successful. It is the heirs who will in turn bestow what would be left of our fiefdom after land deals were closed.

I know nothing about our the acres of fields we own or the proper management of its resources. Before the reins of power were taken over by the children, my grandmother brought me to our province to bear witness as she inspects the farmlands that was hers. That was a long time ago. If there are any vague memories still left in my head, I could sum it up by three things: coconuts, mountains and carabaos.

I do not know how much have changed.

Earnings were divided equally among the siblings. (save for the Businessman-Aunt who reimbursed her expenses during the four-day trip) My mom recieved a share worth half my total earnings for a month. Informal talks about grooming me to take over my Businessman - Aunt's expeditions in the coming years were also discussed in passing. There was no explicit approval on my part, yet, nevertheless I am keen on returning to the land that once nourished my tribe.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Classica (Extended Remix)

Let us paint a picture of a time long ago. When the world was young and the concrete boulevards so few. In a city that still sleeps. In a road less traveled glides a car of glamorous beauty. Its engine whirs from a distance. Its curves slope at the right angles. With three-tiered grills to impose its superiority and thick chrome bumpers to decree its luxury. With front and rear fenders bulging around the wheelbase and small round headlights defining its sophistication. The Chevrolet Fleetline was a car no other and in its heyday was the marque of royalty.

I was going to the office when I caught glimpse of this vintage parked at the inner driveway of the building. Smile creased around my face as I lay dazed at the visual delight in front of me. I have this thing with old cars that I could not explain. Certainly, being taken for a joyride never caught my fancy but seeing them cruising on a busy street together with its postmodern, highly urban counterparts is a guaranteed headturner.

Introduced in the late 40's, the Fleetline served as the flagship sedan of Chevrolet. Powered by a six cylinder solid valve engine and running at 90bhp horsepower, it was the top of the line at a time when the Philippines was enjoying its postwar boom. Put yourself in the shoes of a bygone illustrado taking it for a test drive along Dewey Boulevard as the sun sets at the bay. The pristine waters shimmer in the distance while a handful of city folk still bask along its shores. Turning left at Libertad going to Highway 54, the first tower blocks along Ayala looms as the speedster approaches Makati. Across the rolling hills of Mandaluyong and the vast plains of Ortigas, one might caught glimpse of the massive and circular Araneta Coliseum. Built in the 1950's, its searchlights point toward the sky calling everyone to watch the boxing match of the century.

Turning left once again at Aurora Boulevard, ( a street devoid of any reference in the annals of history) the Chevy rolls as it passes over tree-lined streets. It is past seven in the evening and while most families have just ended their evening prayers, the sedan arrives at your family estate in New Manila where it is parked under a Baroque inspired portico.

These vivid images play inside my head as I take pictures of the parked Chevy while its owner stands behind me. Like a sepia photograph trying to tell a story, it whispers the journeys it had taken and the owners it could have had. It tells of an honest businessman dropping his bratty children to school with the trusted mayordoma running behind them. It remembers a couple who used to be madly in love with each other, only to witness the husband invite another girl for a ride. This other girl, driven to some private room along FB Harrison spends the night with the guy. While the worried wife waits at home with her three-month old infant, ignorant of the dalliance forged by her two-timing husband.

It has seen street brawls, violent road mishaps and buildings being torn down to give way to new office blocks. It has lived life like a machine but its stories would struck a chord with the rest of humanity. The sedan has known sentimentality too well that as long as its engine runs and its owner finds a new buyer; as long as its tires find reason to wobble over paved roads and be admired by curious onlookers; as long as it gets a life extension by timeless restoration and passionate preservation,

The Chevrolet Fleetline will remain a stuff of legend that will be written on and on by souls from different ages enamored by its immortality.

Friday, September 3, 2010

De Facto

Day begins at the strike of midnight. While everyone is asleep, I log on to the Internet to get the latest news at work. First order of business is to read the emails exchanged between the team and the client. Eight hours is not enough to cover all divisions in a 24-hour work operation. Whether by pure luck or merely a temporal downturn, the Argentinian supervisor seldom corresponds with the centre lately. The boss is relieved. I feel neglected. At the back of my head, the strange lull hints the Tango gods have missed their steps these days.

Work starts at six thirty but I show up between seven to nine in the morning given the insomnia I experience these days. The boss never complains. He never sees my activities - only the reports I send before ending my day late in the afternoon. He never says anything so long as I attend the weekly meetings set from Tuesday to Thursday. We don't talk much, unlike during the mini-conferences we had before. Nobody dares challenge the boss or ponder his decisions. Gone are the scrupulous attention to details or the fiery debates which lasted for hours when the mistress was still around. Everything seem stale nowadays.

Going back to the daily grind, I get back to the emails first thing in the morning. Then I would open a page leading to my blog. I read comments; I read other entries. In a boxed-up realm where connections are hard to find, cyberspace has virtually become my window to the outside world.

I read the news to keep abreast of current events. Conrado de Quiros stirs my soul before it gets pummeled by the deluge of workload, which I seem to ignore when receiving no instructions. Strange, but I seldom get commands even when milady was still around. Just the same, they got used to my own process. What is necessary is to know the account by heart.

Analysis has become my expertise. Metrics come from the high lords, which I make everyone comply without facing any resistance. I keep track of key performance indexes with a zeal close to being fanatic. I write emails to lecture agents who badly perform. I make corrections when necessary - even squeezing my brain to come up with good dialogues to use. I secretly celebrate when reading good turnovers, and hide my disappointments when they fail the standards. Sometimes I wonder if I have replaced the Argentinian supervisor who used to push us to improve our quality or had she abandoned us in favor of looking after her turf. (Note: we work alongside a bunch of foreign agents, who lately got less work because of us.)

Holding the fort alone and without anyone to look over my shoulder, the challenge of putting up a front becomes more and more tiresome as time passes. Growing detached from agents and team leaders; ambivalent towards other analysts who have their accounts to keep vigil; haunted by wakefulness at night and somnolence during the day; trading off tens of catnaps instead of producing more results which seldom get noticed until the concern is raised directly by the Rioplatense gods;

Feeling abandoned and yet compelled to stay put in a post that no one likes to take over; Underpaid yet empowered to twist and bend the fate of three dozen subordinates who needs to be towed in line; Underperforming, yet longing to find a purpose in life.


while reviewing some logs only to learn the gargantuan work ahead | Frustrated that a lot of agents still fail to pay attention to what the clients required | Hopeless to find no one to air his case | Longing for a surrogate mother to bitch around him again.

It's lonely up there when you are the de-facto head of your account.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Speculative Fiction

It is the time of the year when my mom would look for volunteers to help finish her school requirement.

The midterm exams have just ended. To make both ends meet, she would accept as many substitute classes as she could (roughly 40 students in each class) and teach them any Humanities subject available. The problem lies with checking the test papers. Her prime age would not let her do repetitive tasks unless she is courting a major headache. The maid was always there to help her. All she would do was give the answer key and the job is finished in less than a week. I do not know what happened this time. Word is, it was the half-brother who took the load of checking the test papers since he had nothing to do but bum around and spend the rest of the day in his room.

So it wasn't really a big surprise to find my half brother in the living room with all the test papers sprawled over the coffee table. What piqued my interest was to find another gentleman seated beside him and checking the papers as well. The guy, about his age, was as lean and dark-skinned as my halfling. They were like two halves of an oxidized apple. One look and you know they're identical.

It would have been easy to ignore the boys if I didn't ask the maid who the other guy was.

"Sino yung kasama ni Red?"

"Friend daw niya."

Friend. The same modifier people use whenever I introduce a new guy at home. The ex was known as such and so were the other guys who came after him. The half brother was not really the type you would think twice as one of us. But on the other hand, a guy who never plays basketball, never had a girlfriend and preoccupies himself with geeky pursuits is a candidate for...


And so there I was seated in a monoblock chair placed at the intermediate landing between two flights of stairs, trying my best not to paint a juicy picture of two young men who were innocently doing their task to earn some keep that I myself could not be relied on. Perhaps, they were just best of friends who enjoy hanging out and talking about their passions and sometimes even sleeping over when someone gets left behind in his apartment.

or even shack... I should stop.

I guess this is the way with non-straights. We would pin our hopes and imaginations on someone believing he shares the same values and preference as we do. We do this just to cover the distance made by our ever looming loneliness and our eternal desire to somehow connect with another.

"Funny how we find ways to tell a story." I told myself while taking a stolen shot of the gentlemen still busy checking the test papers.

"But who knows, maybe they're secret lovers after all."


December 22, 2007
A Repost

Alas-Onse ng gabi.

Habang nakatayo sa tabi ng kalsada isang kanto mula sa Timog Avenue, nagkaroon kami ng mainit na harapan ng straight kong katropa.

Ako: Gaano mo ako kakilala ‘tol?

Tropa: Kilala in what sense? What do you mean?

Ang aming pag-uusap ay nabalot ng katahimikan matapos siyang tanungin tungkol sa aking pagkatao. Hindi ko sigurado kung itutuloy ang aking sasabihin.

Ako: Teka lang. Bili akong yosi.

Sinundan niya ako hanggang makatawid ng kalsada. Talagang gusto niyang malaman kung ano ang aking rebelasyon. Ang kuwento kasi ay may balak ang aking grupo na banatan ang iba naming ka-batchmate. Ito ay bilang ganti sa babaeng kaklase na napahiya sa isang hot seat noong huli naming reunion. Alam kong maaring gumanti ang mga tatamaan, at dahil nauna akong nagladlad sa kanila sa halip na sa aking tropa, tiyak na malaking gusot kapag nalaman ng barkada ang katotohanan sa iba.

Habang nagyoyosi, patuloy na nananaig sa aming dalawa ang katahimikan. Sa pagdaan ng mga sasakyan sa aming harapan at sa bawat paghihithit-buga ng sigarilyo ay naglalaban sa aking damdamin ang desisyon kung aaminin ko ba sa kanya o hindi ang pinakatatago kong sikreto. Ang pag-amin ko ay maaring mag-resulta sa paglaglag sa akin sa barkada. Maari rin itong maging daan upang buo at walang pag-aalinlangan kong matanggap ang aking pagiging bakla.

Ilang segundong katahimikan pa ang aking pinadaan. Sa loob-loob ko, patuloy kong pinag-iisipan kung tama ang aking gagawin o ito’y isang malaking kahangalan. Naroon kasi ang takot na baka hindi nila ako tanggapin. Naroon rin kasi ang posibilidad na hindi pa sila handang malaman ang katotohanan tungkol sa akin.

Sa anim na taong pagiging PLU ko, naniwala akong hindi normal ang malayang makisama sa grupo na ang kinabibilangan ay puro straight na lalaki. Birds of the same feathers flock together, ang kasabihan nga sa ingles. Sa loob ng mahabang panahon, nanatili akong tago sa barkada, samantalang unti-unting namang dumarami ang mga kaibigan kong lalaki na tinanggap na sa sarili ang kanilang paghanga sa kapwa lalaki.

Ang sabi nga namin, walang masama sa pagiging bading.

Sa barkada kong mga gay-bashers, alam kong isang malaking kahihiyan ang malaman na ang isa sa mga sandigan ng tropa ay hindi pala straight. Sa takot kong isipin nila kung paano ko tinago ang pagkagusto sa lalaki sa kabila ng sabay-sabay naming pagligo ng nakahubad at pagtulog ng magkakatabi sa iisang kama, nagdesisyon akong manahimik tungkol sa aking sekswalidad. Pinili ko ring itago ang tungkol sa akin sapagkat sa buong panahong ako ay in-denial, sila ang huling natitirang barkada ko sa mundo ng mga straight. Putulin ko ito't hindi lamang maaring mabura ang dalawang taong puno ng matatamis na alaala sa kolehiyo, magiging buo na rin ang pagiging bakla ko.

Alam kong nag-iintay siya ng kasagutan sa kabila ng aking pananahimik. Sa kanyang matalim na pagtingin, ramdam kong gusto niyang pangunahan ang balak kong sabihin. Upang maiwasan ang tuluyang pagtupi, nagdesisyon akong sa akin na manggaling ang pag-amin sa kung sino ang totoong ako.

I'm not straight pare.

Isang buntong hininga sabay tingin sa maliliwanag at kumikislap na ilaw sa malayo.

Hindi ko man alam kung ano ang kanyang magiging reaksyon, naisip kong hinog na ang panahon para ako ay lumantad at maging totoo sa kanila. Sa haba ng pinagsamahan namin bilang magkatropa, marahil ay matatanggap rin naman nila ako. Yun nga lang, ngayong wala na akong tinatago, para bang hindi na rin ako karapat-dapat tawaging discreet sa mata ng mga closeted na aking nakilala.

Habang nakatitig sa kawalan at pinag-aaralan kung tama ang aking desisyon. Nagsalita ang aking kaibigan, ang tinuturing na pinuno ng aming grupo.

"Matagal ko nang alam Mugs. Matagal ka na namin tinanggap na ganyan ka." Malumanay ang tono ng kanyang boses. "Ang hindi ko lang matanggap ay kung bakit kami ang huli mong pinagaminan."

Sa bawat pagbagsak ng kanyang salita, muling bumalik ang alaala ng isang sentihan sa pagitan ko at isa pang katropa ilang buwan ang nakakaraan. Pauwi kami galing sa burol ng isa naming kabarkadang sumakabilang-buhay na. Habang nagkuwekwentuhan sa loob ng kanyang sasakyan, nasabi niya sa akin na masyado nang malalim ang samahan namin na kahit ano pa ako, kaibigan pa rin ang turing niya sa akin. Itong kaibigan ito ang nangungunang gay-basher noong kami ay mga estudyante pa at ang marinig sa kanya ang mga salitang iyon ay tunay na nakakataba ng puso. Subalit nang mga oras na iyon, hindi ko sineryoso ang kanyang pahiwatig.

Ang buong akala ko ay wala siyang alam tungkol sa tinatagong kong pagkatao.

Bumalik kami sa bar kung saan naroon ang iba pa naming mga kasama. Hindi na niya ako pinagpaliwanag sa aking pag-amin, at sa halip, nagtuloy ang aming inuman na puro buhay pag-ibig ang pinagusapan.

Natapos ang gabi na kami-kami pa rin ang magkakasama. Naroon ang tawanan, ang walang katapusan at paulit-ulit na pagbabalik tanaw sa mga babaeng naging bahagi ng aming buhay kolehiyo at pati na rin ang mga lakad namin sa mga probinsya na sunuong namin sa ngalan ng paggawa ng de-kalidad na school projects sa Journalism. Naroon rin na inalala namin ang kabarkadang pumanaw na. Sa pagpupumilit na mabigyan ng magandang buhay ang kanyang pamilya, kalusugan ang kabayaran ng kanyang mga sakripisyo.

Sa kabila ng aking pag-amin ay hindi na ito pinagusapan noong gabing iyon. Hindi ko na rin ipinaalam sa iba ang naging kaganapan sa labas ng bar. Sa halip, binigyang kalayaan ko ang aming lider na magpaliwanag tungkol sa aking desisyong itago ang aking pagkatao. Tatlong taon na ang nakakaraan, tinanong rin nila ako tungkol sa kumakalat na tsismis na may nakakita sa akin sa Malate, ito'y pinagkibit balikat ko lang habang mabangis pala ang naging pagtatanggol nila sa akin.

Ngayong nabawasan na ang aking mga sikreto, pakiramdam ko ay nabunutan ako ng tinik na matagal nang nakabaon sa aking lalamunan. Mayroon man akong mga pag-aalinlangan sa aking pag-amin, sa huli ay ito rin ang naging daan upang buo kong matanggap ang aking pagiging PLU.


Taon na ang lumipas mula nang mag-usap kami ng aking tropa sa tabing daan at aminin sa kanya na ako ay bading. Sa tuwing maalala ko kung paano tinanggap ng straight kong barkada ang tungkol sa akin, ang sisig na dati rati’y malansa sa aking pang-amoy tuwing kami ay magkakasama ay biglang nagiging mabango at nakakapaglaway ng labi. Ang San Miguel Light, na kadalasan ay mapait sa aking panlasa ay nagiging matamis, tanggalan man ito ng yelo.

Nang sumunod na taon ay muli kaming nag reunion. Ako ay naging hot seat ulit matapos ipaalam ng aming pinuno ang ginawa kong pag-amin noong nakaraang pagkikita. Sa halip na layuan ay buong lugod nilang tinanggap ang aking pagkatao. Nagkaroon man ng tampuhan sa aking pagtatago, malinaw na ang aming samahan ay hindi na mababali pa.

"Sigurado ka ba Mugs diyan, baka phase lang yan..."

"Hindi ah! Wala ng atrasan pa."

"Bahala ka, basta andito lang kami para sumuporta."

Simula noon ay hindi na naging issue kung ako ba ay straight o PLU. Madalas ay sila pa ang nagpapaubaya sa tuwing malalagay ako sa alanganin, lalo pa't trip pambababae ang kanilang balak gawin. Hindi nakapagtataka, ilang buwan matapos ikasal ang isa naming barkada, tropapics pa rin ang unang litrato sa Facebook account ko. Minsan minsan na lang kami magkita ngayon. Nalimot na rin marahil ang nangyaring aminan noong gabing iyon. Subalit para sa aking taon ang hinintay bago tuluyang tanggapin ang sarili,

Ang kalayaan sa Timog Avenue ang isa sa mga alaalang lagi kong dadalhin sa tuwing magbubukas ng closet ng iba.